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ISRAEL AND APARTHEID: A FAIR COMPARISON?

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There is a controversy raging in North America over Israel Apartheid Week (March 1-7 2010). A resolution was passed in the Ontario Provincial Parliament which was unanimously supported (only 30 MPPs voted) and declared the comparison of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Apartheid as "odious." To quote an article in the Toronto Star Canada's largest circulation paper.

In a rare show of unanimity, Ontario MPPs of all political stripes have banded together to condemn "Israeli Apartheid Week."

Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill) tabled the motion Thursday to denounce the sixth annual provocative campus event that kicks off next week at universities and colleges in 35 cities around the world.

"Resolutions in the Ontario Legislature send a message. They are about moral suasion," said Shurman, adding "it is close to hate speech" to liken democratic Israel to Apartheid-eraSouth Africa..

Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill) was quoted as saying that he wants "the name changed. It's just wrong" and that his resolution is about "moral suasion", and that the term Apartheid is "close to hate speech "hateful" and "odious". He says he wants a "respectful" debate much more "constructive" than "slinging slurs."

Shurman also argued that the comparison "is also offensive to the millions of black South Africans oppressed by a racist white regime until the early 1990s."

It is interesting to see what South Africans who actually lived under the Apartheid system have to say about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. The natural basis of such kinship between the policies of Israel and South Africa was apparently recognized by the virulent supporter of Apartheid and prime minister of South Africa, Hendrik Verwoerd. He noted in 1961 that Jews "took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an Apartheid state."

The much revered leader of the struggle against racism and Apartheid in South Africa and the first President of the non-racist Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela had the following to say on the issue of the Palestinians. To quote journalist John Pilger, "To Nelson Mandela, justice for the Palestinians is "the greatest moral issue of our time."

Here is an excerpt from a speech Nelson Mandela gave on International day of Solidarity with the Palestinians:

The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces.

Yet we would be less than human if we did so.

It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.

Even during the days of negotiations, our own experience taught us that the pursuit of human fraternity and equality - irrespective of race or religion - should stand at the centre of our peaceful endeavours. The choice is not between freedom and justice, on the one hand, and their opposite, on the other. Peace and prosperity; tranquility and security are only possible if these are enjoyed by all without discrimination.

It is in this spirit that I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

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EDWARD C. CORRIGAN SHORT BIO Edward C. Corrigan holds a B.A. in History and a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. Ed also has a Law Degree from the University of Windsor and was called to the Bar of the (more...)
 

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